“The Blue Rider has fallen, a mighty, biblical figure about whom there hung a fragrance of Eden. Across the landscape he cast a blue shadow. He was the one who could still hear the animals speak; and he transfigured their uncomprehended souls.” Else Lasker-Schuler’s obituary to Franz Marc in the Berliner Tageblatt.(1916).
Franz Marc was born in Munich the second son of the painter Wilhelm Marcand his Alsace-born wife Sophie. After one year’s military service he attended the Munich University to study philosophy and theology. He switched to painting in 1920 and studied for two years at the Kunstakademie. In 1903 he travelled to Paris where he first encountered the work of the Impressionists; the works of Gauguin and van Gogh particularly impressed him.
In 1909 Marc moved to Sindelsdorf with Maria Franck who was later to become his wife and a year later he met August Macke who was to become his closest friend. In 1911 he became a member of a Munich exhibiting society, the Neue Kunstlervereinigung and by the end of the year had moved on to the splinter group, Der Blaue Reiter. Marc concentrated animals for the most part, believing they were more important physically and spiritually than humans. He was a highly emotional painter regarding different colours as representing some feeling or perception of the animal. In 1912 he was exposed to the work of Robert Delaunay and this led Marc into further abstractions, most notably ‘Animal Destinies’ (1913).
Franz Marc was at the forefront of German Expressionism. His paintings were highly distinctive and incredibly powerful. He was very sensitive to his surroundings, a characteristic which was pushed to overload with the outbreak of the First World War. The death of Macke on the battle field disturbed him enormously. Sadly Marc was to succumb to the same fate a few months later.